Karma Naach: Sambalpuri Folk Dance

Karam or Karma literally means ‘fate’ in Kosli (Sambalpuri language). This pastoral Sambalpuri folk dance is performed during the worship of the god or goddess of fate (Karam Devta or Karamsani Devi), whom the people consider the cause of good and bad fortune. It begins from Bhadra Shukla Ekadasi (eleventh day of the full tmoon of the month of Bhadra) and lasts for several days.

This is popular among the scheduled class tribes (e.g., the Binjhal, Kharia, Kisan and Kol) in the districts of Balangir, Kalahandi, Sundargarh, Sambalpur and Mayurbhanj. This dance is in honour of Karamsani, the deity who bestows children and good crops. After the puja is done it is followed by singing and dancing in accompaniment of drum (maandal), cymbal, etc. The dance performance full of vigour and energy combined with charm of the youth decked with colourful costumes in exuberance of red cloth, set in peacock feathers, skillfully designed ornaments made of small conch shells, brings the onlookers as well as the performers to a mood of trance and ecstasy. Everyone takes part and continues to engross themselves for the whole night. The skillful movement of the boys with mirrors in hand indicates the traditional pattern of love-making in course of dancing and singing. The dance is performed sometimes by boys in group, sometimes by girls in group and sometimes both together. The subject matter of songs constitutes the description of nature, invocation to Karmasani, desires, aspiration of people, love and humour.

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